In addition to being the inspiration for a million bad jokes about Aaron Burr and the Annapolis Convention, Alex Hamilton is a pretty good Magic player.
He’s been a fixture of the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series, with four top 8 finishes since its inception last year, but missed out on the inaugural championship. He’ll have no such worries this year; by winning July’s Modern CT, he guaranteed a spot in this year’s championship. In addition to that, the win put him in first place on the leaderboard, giving him a shot at claiming the inaugural MVP award.
Alex took the time to answer some questions about his win, Magic in general and the NRG Championship Series. First, let’s take a look at his winning decklist:
Alexander Hamilton, U/W Control, 1st place, NRG Championship Series CT, 7/29/17
Casey Laughman (CL): How long have you been playing Magic? What got you into the game and what keeps you interested in it?
Alex Hamilton (AH): I have been playing Magic since my senior year in high school, so about nine years (seven competitively). It was something to do in the dead time between school and drama club after school. My freshman year of college, I kind let it go until I had a very messy break-up with this girl and after that I started hanging out more with people on my floor who played Magic. I then went to an FNM, the last weekend Fairies was legal, and played some weird Bant deck. After that it kind of snowballed into where I am today.
For me, Magic is a puzzle that is always changing. I like how complex it is. The people who I have met through Magic have really kept me in it as well.
CL: You’re known for a couple different Modern decks, namely Jeskai Control and Knightfall. But your deck of choice for this tournament was U/W Control. What made you think it would be a good choice?
AH: I have played many Modern decks through the years. Abzan, Jund, Splinter Twin, Jeskai (control and Geist), Knightfall, Death’s Shadow, and even a brief outing with U/W Tron. I picked (U/W Control) up because I was browsing through MTGgoldfish for decks to play at the team CTQ, and I saw this towards the top of the list. I started noticing it looked really good against Shadow and fine against Eldrazi Tron. With those being the top decks that I thought were going to show up, I figured “what the heck” and decided to sleeve it up. During the event I only played one game that I felt I was way out of my league in, and that was against Affinity.
The other two reasons I was drawn to this was it playing a set of Supreme Verdicts and Cryptic Commands. Also, one of the biggest reasons to play this deck is that you can essentially force your opponent to mulligan by making their removal rot in their hand.
CL: What did you like about the deck? Anything you didn’t like and are considering as possible changes?
AH: I really liked how it played. The deck felt like a well-oiled machine and functioned accordingly. One problem I saw was the lack of win conditions. That probably cannot be helped, but it could be considered a huge weakness.
CL: How do you feel about Modern as a format right now? What do you like and not like about it?
AH: I will be honest: I think Modern has been a pretty crappy format for a while. Currently it is better than it has been since the twin banning. My reasoning for it being bad is really down to the problem that has existed since the inception of the format, which is the ban list and bannings. While some have been for the health of the format (e.g., Gitaxian Probe, Second Sunrise) some have had very shady reasoning (e.g., Green Sun’s Zenith, Twin, the initial Wild Nacatl ban). The outcome of these bans is an eroded consumer confidence and a format that is really just passable.
CL: After several near misses, you’ve finally broken through to win a CT and earn a spot in the championship. How does it feel to get a win and not have to worry about sweating out a qualification on points?
AH: The win was really amazing. It felt bad to beat a friend (James Bush) in the finals, but it was a fun event and a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I told myself after I missed last year that I was going to get to the event and now I have.
CL: Now that you’ve guaranteed yourself a spot in the championship, does it change your perspective on the points race? If so, how? If not, why not?
AH: It means I might miss some CTs for other things that happen in my life. It also means I won’t be going to many CTQs in the future, unless they are close and I really want to play the format.
I now see the points race as something that would be fun to win, but I am not going to break my back to do it. I think it is because I am not depending on it for my qualification.
CL: What are your thoughts on the Championship Series overall and its growth since it began?
AH: I think the series is fantastic. Since SCG abandoned the Midwest there needed to be someone to pick up the slack and I am glad it was Nerd Rage. I like that the series has spread all over and I hope in the future it continues to grow even more. As long as these events are going on they should expect to see me there.
Alex Hamilton won the July 2017 CT and currently sits in first place on the leaderboard. Casey Laughman is editor of Nerd Rage Gaming. Email comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.